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For a pragmatics of power: the chief's speech in Alto Xingu

Grant number: 12/16252-6
Support type:Scholarships in Brazil - Scientific Initiation
Effective date (Start): September 01, 2012
Effective date (End): December 31, 2014
Field of knowledge:Humanities - Anthropology - Indigenous Ethnology
Principal researcher:Renato Sztutman
Grantee:Henrique Pougy
Home Institution: Faculdade de Filosofia, Letras e Ciências Humanas (FFLCH). Universidade de São Paulo (USP). São Paulo , SP, Brazil


Despite having emphasized the discursive dimension in his conceptualization of the amerindian chieftainship, Pierre Clastres never developed a detailed study of the chief's speech, characterizing them generically as "empty speeches", that do not communicate, sliding into the field of pure value. Recent works on ethnology and linguistics, in their turn, point out the necessity of considering the meaning potentialities of the indexical aspects of language, distancing themselves from what we may call the western world's linguistic ideology. These considerations allow a new glance over some of the more known Clastres' formulations about the language-power nexus and point out the necessity of approaching the diverse forms of signification mobilized in the chief's speech. A bibliographical survey about the ethnographic production of this speech is, therefore, demanding. The use of language as a mark for sociopolitical identities and the importance of chieftainship on the rituals that occur on the Alto Xingu's Multiethnical System make it a preferential field to explore the relation between chieftainship and language. Among the different groups belonging to this system, those who speak caribean languages stand out due to the fruitful debate and availability of ethnographies addressing the language and chieftainship thematic. Thus, this project's objective is to accomplish a bibliographical survey about the ethnographic production addressing the thematic of the chief's speech among the caribean-speaker groups in Alto Xingu. Therefore, it seeks to contribute with material for future research aiming to explore the language-power nexus among amerindian socialities, in a common effort to find out the "properly amerindian terms of politics".(AU)

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